Shit You Should Care About… Brexit (2.0)
So, a lot has changed since I wrote my first article about Brexit, and I think it’s time I explain what the hell is going on now.
It’s actually pretty entertaining.
Brexit = Britains exit from the EU.
Who’s involved exactly?
The UK: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales
The European Union: A political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe, and who trade with each other and allow citizens to move easily between them to live and work.
What is Brexit?
In short, the UK voted in a referendum in 2016 to leave the European Union, where 51.9% of voters opted to leave.
Since then, Prime Minister Theresa May has been trying her best to make a “divorce deal” that pleases everyone. But every time she presents a new deal, it keeps getting rejected. So far it’s been rejected three times. (For Brexit to go forward, British MPs & the EU must agree on the deal. So far only the EU are on board).
Why did Brexit happen?
For extensive background on why, go and read my last article here.
But, put simply:
David Cameron (previous Prime Minister), campaigned on the promise that he would hold a referendum
Citizens of the UK wanted more sovereignty over decision making
The UK wanted more control over immigration/ borders
They thought they would make back the money that they were spending being in the EU (this turned out to be false.)
When will it happen?
Well, two days before Britain was supposed to officially exit the EU (March 29th), May had to reach out to the EU and ask for an extension. This is because her withdrawal deal is simply not getting accepted.
She got an 8 month extension to figure it out. The new exit date is October 31st. But, if the UK and EU can agree on a withdrawal deal before then, it will be moved forward.
What’s in the withdrawal deal that keeps getting rejected?
Again, I explain the whole deal in my last article here:
But very simply:
How much money the UK will have to pay the EU in order to break the partnership - that's about £39bn
What will happen to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU, and equally, what will happen to EU citizens living in the UK
How to avoid the return of a physical border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) when it becomes the frontier between the UK and the EU
A length of time, called the transition period, has been agreed to allow the UK and EU to agree a trade deal and to give businesses the time to adjust.
Why does it keep getting rejected?
There are so many reasons. Simply, you are never going to please everyone with one deal. To add more context, many claim that the deal fails to give back to the UK control of its own affairs from the EU. There are also worries about what happens the Irish Border, as they want to avoid what they call a “hard border” and the return of guard posts and checks.
Other MPs just really want the UK to stay close to the EU, or even better, in it.
Could the UK leave without a deal?
Yup, this is called a “no deal Brexit,” and will happen if the MPs don’t accept one of May’s deals. This simply means that the UK severs all ties with the EU come October 31st, with no transition period and no guarantees on citizens rights. It also means that EU laws stop applying to the UK immediately. This could disrupt businesses and the economy, but the UK could save the 39 billion pounds that they have to spend on the divorce bill.
Could Brexit be cancelled?
Yes. It could be. Currently it’s written into law that the UK will be leaving, so stopping Brexit would require a law change in the UK, which is something that neither of the major parties want to do right now. However, the European Court of Justice ruled on December 10th, 2018, that the UK could cancel the Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members, if it followed a democratic process - i.e if parliament voted for it. Since then, a petition calling for May to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU has surpassed 6 million signatures, and was debated on April 1st.
Why it probably won’t be cancelled, even though it could be:
Despite the ruling that it can be canceled, and the debate about the petition, the Government department for Exiting the European Union has said: "This government will not revoke Article 50. We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union.”
The statement said cancelling Brexit and staying in the EU would "undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in government.”
It added: "Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy."
What does May really think of Brexit?
Well, to begin with, May was actually against Brexit. Even during the 2016 referendum. Now, obviously she is in favour of it, as she says it is what the people want.
Will May stay in power?
No. She won’t. Though she has survived two attempts to get rid of her by way of no confidence votes, May has told Tory MPs that she will resign if MPs back a deal, so that someone else can lead the next phase of Brexit negotiations.
What are no confidence votes?
Basically votes that determine whether a leader should stay a leader. The first was in December of 2018, where a group of her own MPs who were unhappy with her Brexit deal organised a no confidence vote in her as the Conservative leader. She won 200 voted to 117, which means she is immune from other attempts to oust her as Tory leader until December 2019.
The Second was from the Labour Party (her opposition), who held another no confidence vote in her government after her Brexit plan was again voted down in January 2019. All MP’s voted in this one, and she survived by 19 votes. However, unlike the internal Tory no confidence vote, there is no limit to the number of times she could face a confidence vote in Parliament and Labour have not ruled out holding further ones.
What does this mean for New Zealand?
If the UK exits the EU without a deal, there will likely be implications on NZ, but NZ has strong relationship with both the EU and UK, and these will continue. The worst case scenario for New Zealand would be a “no deal Brexit” as it simply leaves things to the unknown.
Travel/moving to the UK:
According to MFAT: “Your ability to travel should not be impacted by Brexit, however it is possible that a 'no-deal' Brexit may result in longer queues at UK and EU ports of entry.”
“The UK’s exit from the EU should not affect the visa arrangements New Zealand has with the UK. The Youth Mobility Scheme visa will still be available to New Zealand citizens.”
In preparing for Britains exit, NZ and the UK have signed bilateral agreements to maintain stability in our trading regimes including:
Sanitary Measures Applicable to Trade in Live Animals and Animal Products (the Veterinary Agreement) and
Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment (the Mutual Recognition Agreement)
Both of these agreements will come into effect as soon as the UK leaves the EU, and will ensure continuation of arrangements current in place of the UK.
Agreements that have confirmed continuity are currently in place for:
Exports of New Zealand organic products;
Conformity checks for the inspection of fresh fruit and vegetables prior to export (in New Zealand’s case, specifically apples, pears and kiwifruit); and
Fisheries catch certification
So trading and travelling conditions are looking pretty safe, but if you’re interested in learning more about how Brexit may impact New Zealand, I encourage you to click here.
So, the only thing pretty certain is that the future is uncertain. May won’t stay in power, Brexit could technically be cancelled, but probably won’t be. And we are still in limbo until October 31st. So until then, let’s keep following this together, and in the meantime, if you guys have any questions, please keep asking them!
I really hope this helped you - it certainly helped me!
Contrary to popular belief I’m not a Brexit expert, so the articles that helped me get this piece together are listed below.
Banner Image by Alvaro Dominguez